Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell hold “extreme views” and are not fit to lead the Labour Party, according to one Labour MP.
Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North in the Black Country, claimed the current Labour leadership were Marxists who “have taken over the Labour Party and want to turn it from a mainstream social democratic party into something very different”.
He was criticised by Owen Jones, a journalist and supporter of Mr Corbyn, who said: “Marxism has always had a big influence in Labour.”
Most Labour MPs have held back from criticising Mr Corbyn, the party leader, or his close allies such as Mr McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, following the 2017 general election result.
But Mr Austin took a very different approach in an outspoken article for website PoliticsHome.
He said: “The reason I didn’t support Jeremy’s candidacy and have not been persuaded since is because I just don’t think people with track records of extreme views like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell should lead a mainstream party.
“No senior Labour figure would ever have backed violent street protest as John McDonnell did when as recently as between 2010 and 2012, he called for ‘insurrection’ to ‘bring down’ the government or praise rioters who had ‘kicked the s—‘ out of the Conservative Party’s offices in Westminster.
“On Northern Ireland, they were both completely outside the mainstream of the Labour Party. It might be ancient history for lots of the party’s new young recruits, but lots of older people will never forget what they said about the IRA during a brutal war which saw bombs planted and people murdered in shopping centres, hotels and pubs.
“A few weeks after the IRA blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton and murdered five people at the Tory Party Conference in 1984, Jeremy Corbyn invited two suspected IRA terrorists to the House of Commons. When the man responsible for planting the bomb was put on trial, he demonstrated outside the court.
“As recently as 2003, John McDonnell said ‘those people involved in the armed struggle’ should be honoured – people who he said had used ‘bombs and bullets’.”
Some of Mr Corbyn’s and Mr McDonnell’s supporters claim they were trying to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.
But Mr Austin said this was “just not true”, and the pair were actually campaigning for a victory for the republican cause rather than working for a peaceful agreement.
He said: “That’s why Jeremy Corbyn was amongst a handful who voted against the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 and why John McDonnell opposed setting up a power-sharing assembly which eventually became the Good Friday Agreement.”
Mr Austin added: “No previous Labour leadership would have supported totalitarian dictatorships in Cuba or Venezuela, echoed the Russian dictatorship’s line on Ukraine or have taken money from the Iranian dictatorship’s official state broadcaster.”
Mr Austin was criticised by some supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
They include journalist Owen Jones, who said on Twitter: “You’ve regurgitated a load of Tory attack lines which were rained on the Labour Party in the general election, which 41% of the electorate saw through.”
He also said: “Rightwing Labour MP Ian Austin has written a piece arguing Corbyn and McDonnell shouldn’t lead a mainstream party, an attack originally inspired by John McDonnell attending a conference marking Marx’s 200th birthday.
“But Marxism has always had a big influence in Labour.”